Idea for free range coop?

chica-z

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
81
0
39
Northern WI
Please critique this idea! I've been trying to figure out a way to let my girls come and go with out letting the predators have access to their coop. They free range all day. My latest bright idea was this: We've got hardware cloth up about 7 -8ft high in their run. I would frame an opening high enough so a fox couldn't jump through the opening. To keep out the climbers (weasels, coons, etc) , I would like to try a sheet metal "skirt" attached to the hardware cloth, extending out 16-20 inches in each direction. Kind of the same idea as one of those squirrel baffels. Does that make sense?

It would be probably 5 feet or more up off the ground, so they would have to fly up and through the opening, Thoughts??
 

Mahlzeit

Songster
12 Years
Jul 16, 2007
1,420
74
216
Long Island NY
It sounds like an interesting idea. How big would the hole be? The only issue I could see with it would be training them to go in and out of it.
 

chica-z

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
81
0
39
Northern WI
I was thinking 16" square. Ya, I wonder if they'd figure it out too. I don't want to do all the work and then find out they won't USE it!
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I do have a roost inside at about the same height as the hole would be, so mabey they would sit there on their roost and finally figure it out. Or mabey I'd just have to shove them through a time or two...
 

chica-z

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
81
0
39
Northern WI
Good thought, though we havn't had any problems with either. The girls range over an area the size of an acre. The hole could possibly be sheilded from flying preds by the tin roof overhang...

At any rate, the flying preds don't seem to bother much, perhaps because there is so much cover and trees?
 

chica-z

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
81
0
39
Northern WI
How high would the hole need to be to keep out the jumpers, like a fox? 4 feet? 5?? If there is a slippery metal flashing around the hole, there won't be any traction for them to gain from the hardware cloth. But I know fox are pretty agile, not sure how high they're able to just from a standstill...

For those of you struggling to envision this, basically I would just attach the flashing flat against the hardware cloth, extending out 16 inches or so in each direction.
 
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BigPeep

Songster
10 Years
May 27, 2009
208
11
111
As far as night time predators are concerned, I would just make sure the chickens have a coop that is predator proof. They will go into that all by themselves every night and you just have to lock it down and open it in the morning.

The main daytime predator concern would be hawks, and any domestic animals like dogs. You don't need much to keep the dogs out, just a 3 ft fence. You can 't do much about hawks unless the area they free range in is small enough where you can string fishing line back and forth from posts. Otherwise, get big enough birds that the hawks don't go after them and keep the little ones under wraps. If the area they are in has cover, they will spot the hawks long before you can and head for it.

I am going to use some spare greenhouse hoops to build a frame on wheels and then drape shade cloth over it. This will give me a 32 ft by 16 ft area which can be moved around. There will be a coop also on wheels placed inside. Then you can just move the whole thing around after a couple of days in one spot and it should be safe from all types of predators.
 

chica-z

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
81
0
39
Northern WI
Thanks, Big Peep, for the thoughts! The idea of the opening was so that I wouldn't have to let them in and out...they have a fairly secure acre (electric wires and chicken netting) to roam safely, but I'm not always home at dusk to close up the coop. And they get really peeved if I lock them up at 2 pm, when there is still HOURS left of good daylight. They are pretty active girls, and used to their freedom. I also like my freedom to come and go, and to not HAVE to be home at dusk to shut the coop.

As I think about it more, I'm not sure fox would even be a problem, they'd have to get past the electric fence first.
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More likely, a weasel or fisher...

I'm trying to figure out a way to not have to buy an automatic pophole opener...those things are kinda pricey!
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Thanks for helping me brainstorm!
 

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